Garry Hill had nothing but praise for his players and believes he’s seen another side of them after they blunted the league leaders at the Kuflink Stadium this afternoon.
“I’ve seen another side today of the playing squad at this football club,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “Our players are not only turning round and being committed, they’ve dug deep and shown great character. There were some tired legs out there today, very tired legs, but big hearts. If you want to push on over the last 16 league games of the season and be in contention for a play-off spot, you’ve got to have a big heart. I think we’ve shown that now and the form down here at Ebbsfleet is becoming what we wanted it to be. It is becoming a fortress. If you keep as many clean sheets as we’ve kept over the last 10 or 11 games, and you’re getting goals at the other end, it certainly puts you in the right direction.”
And the Fleet boss also reserved a special mention for his goalkeeper, with Nathan Ashmore pulling off several fantastic saves after weeks in the media spotlight.
“The goalkeeper today, he’s gone through a fair bit,” said Hill. “We all know about certain things one way or another, but I thought his performance today was the best I’ve seen of him since I’ve been at the football club. And I mean all round – his handling, his kicking, his reflexes, the way he conducts himself out there. I thought he looked a real quality goalkeeper, which we know he is.”
With a two-week rest behind them, Hill sent his charges out looking to get at the visitors quickly and he thought Fleet got the balance right as Orient weren’t understandably short of ideas in attack.
“We started the brighter team,” he said. “I think we were on the front foot very, very early. We were very unlucky when Michael Cheek’s got behind them and it looked like the keeper saved it but whether he just got challenged at that time as he was going to play the shot, I don’t know. There were some good signs there early on. Rightly so, we went in front. Nice to see Jack King score – as a rule he stops them at the other end. It’s a great strike, he’s smashed it in the top, the keeper got a hand to it but the power beat him.
“The first 25 minutes I thought we governed it in a big way and last 20 minutes of the first-half… they’re a very good side, they’ve got some very good players… they were moving the ball around well but not really asking too many questions. We defended and got ourselves in positions behind the ball. The question was always going to be at half-time and in the second half, what we were going to do and what they were going to try and do. Again we started the brighter, we had opportunities one or two times to go further ahead that we never took.
“It’s a wonderful free-kick [from Chris Bush]. You can go and watch football at all levels and see people take free-kicks. I was quite surprised where he took it on but the whip and the pace he got on the ball, right in the corner. I always felt from there we were in control of the game. It was a game where we were defending very, very well. They’ve kept pushing us to the end, they’re throwing lots of bodies forward at 2-0 down, they’ve got to do that. It’s a great day for the club.”
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